Santa Teresa Patron of the Spanish Catholic writers
It is the case of Father Atanasio Márquez, in Cordoba, Argentina, whom I have never met and who now lives in Spain, however there are many people who have told me about him and the visible legacy he has left behind.
Among the initiatives he took being here, the rehabilitation of the beautiful church of El Carmen, Christmas for Singles, without forgetting the Strong Friends of God.
Father Atanasio is a man, as I said, I don’t know personally but I do through his works and I can perceive in him an enormous human quality. The Christmas for the Alones is celebrated each year on 24 December after Midnight Mass. And it is as its name suggests a celebration for those who have no family, or it isn’t near, for avoiding them to celebrate that festivity on their own. Today more than 1000 people participate in this event.
But I would like to talk really about my new Argentinian friends. They are the Strong Friends of God. And again their name is their best definition, they are a group of friends, between whom there is no hierarchy or differences. That said, there are rules, the main one, to love each other, take care about each other and to help each other. But what makes that group so special? Special people. Men and women with mental disabilities, that doesn’t annul at all, on the contrary, their ability to love and want to share experiences.
More or less 10 monitors, a similar number of mothers and over 50 friends in this group that meets every Saturday for many activities, now they are preparing a choir and a theater for Christmas, Last week the roles were distributed on Saturday will begin with rehearsals. But depending on benefactors and state subventions they do much more activities: trips, excursions, talks, go to the cinema, make crafts… The Strong Friends of God are never bored. Ah! And they always have a snack, they explain me they always have something to pick at, and they tell me they expect with illusion the Saturdays to meet, and that weekends are very long to them without the weekly encounters.
The instructors, incredibly respectful, just coordinate a little bit this group of friends that love to have fun and chat. After all together go to Mass.
I was invited to meet them and make them an interview, it was a testimonial representation of the group, but the ones that could came, because it was not Saturday, some directly from school. And we started, all sitting, answering by turns to my questions and talking me about the project, but ultimately, already up, and between caresses and hugs, we did what friends do, talk about life, soccer, of things that interest them and those they care about. Giving me advice on places that could not miss in Cordoba and laughing together, so they didn’t have to explain me more what the Strong Friend of God do, for a while I could join them.
As they know I return to Spain they have sent me a mission, I must greet Father Atanasio for them, that founded them in 1985, some of the founding members still come from time to time, almost 30 years later and were very insistent, want to take you all her love.
I'll do my best!
From here a big hug to my Argentine friends, the Strong Friends of God.